McIlhenney's Irish Red | Alpine Beer Company

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McIlhenney's Irish RedMcIlhenney's Irish Red

Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States

Style: Irish Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our most versatile beer. Good to drink as well as cook with. Light enough to quench a thirst and complex enough to accompany fine dining. Caramel malty sweet fades to a chocolate roasty finish and dry from a touch of rye. 1.057 OG 13 IBU

Added by Gusler on 12-19-2002

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Reviews: 77 | Ratings: 270
Photo of kojevergas
3.62/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

22 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a conical Guinness pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of fantastic cream, beige colour, nice thickness, and good retention. Very appealing. Colour is a semitransparent caramel-red. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Toasted malt, chocolate malt, cream, caramel, vanilla (?), and very subtle fruit notes - I even get a hint of grape in there, and it actually works. Quite dry and musty, suiting the style. I'm getting really excited about trying this. A perfectly subtle mild strength aroma. Quite intriguing.

T: A toasted and caramelized malt backbone immediately sets the tone for this solid Irish red. Some cream up front, with dried bright fruits emerging throughout, blossoming as the second act progresses right into the full-bodied brilliant climax. The third act features diverse fruit flavours, but they should be wrapped up by then. In any case, it's a solidly built beer in the style. I'm impressed. The flavours are balanced nicely; I just wish the stucture was.

Mf: The finish should be coarse and dry, but it is instead quite the opposite. This is the biggest failure of the beer. It's thick but not overly so. Nicely carbonated. Unfortunately, the mouthfeel is wrong for the style and distracts from the flavour.

Dr: A very drinkable Irish red boasting a lot of diverse enjoyable flavours. I don't know that I have had an Irish red this good since Smithwick's. I'd definitely try this on draught; it's as good as most Irish Reds I drank while living in the auld country. Bravo to Alpine.

Low B

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Photo of mactrail
2.73/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Seems like a lack of inspiration meets a category of low aspirations.

Lemony and fruity, is the best quality. Slight sweetness. Very light bodied. Coppery amber in the glass with a decent head and lacing. Just a little taste of hops. Light all around. Mostly beery with a little murkiness. Totally forgettable. The cask version certainly doesn't add anything to the flavor or mouthfeel.

This makes me wonder about the medals at beer-judged events, if this won gold anything anywhere. I don't see that we, the Great Unwashed horde of BAs, like this so much. On the cask at the Linkery in San Diego.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, no date but August or September I think from memory. Shame on me for leaving this one go so long in the fridge. Poured into a New Belgium globe

A: Pours a clear dark amber color. Half finger of off white head. Some lacing bits.

S: Maybe old but get tons of caramel on this. All malt. The hops, what were used that is, have really faded.

T: Again, this beer is 6 months old. Stinks, but usually red ales hold up for a while. I get no hops. Tons of caramel malts! Just a full on malt bomb. Also, I do get some of that rye spice still. Maybe a little milk chocolate in the end also. Longer finish than expected. There is certainly some nuttiness, which others were mentioning too.

M: Medium bodied.

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Photo of BeerDawgs
3.6/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 22oz bottle shipped to Atl, GA from Escondido, CA

A - Fairly dark amber, with little clarity. Not much head, with slight lace sticking on the glass

S - Dried fruit. Apples.

T - Sweet, caramel, sugar. Pretty tasty.

M - Light bodied, low carbonation. Easy on the palate

O - A tasty red. A little sweeter than a typical red. Very drinkable, since its a pretty low ABV

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Photo of corby112
3.66/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Draft at the brewpub.

Pours a dark golden orange/amber color with a 1.5 finger off white head that slowly fades into a lasting ring. Sporadic streaks of lacing left behind.

Sweet malt aroma with lots of caramel, toffee, rye and dark fruits. Subtle hops and estery yeast balance things out a bit.

Fuller bodied than expected with a balance of crisp hops and sweet malts. Hoppier than expected up front with dry spiciness and subtle earthy, floral notes.backing malt backbone with lots of sweetness. Hints of caramel, toffee rye, hazelnut, apricot and other light fruit. Well balanced and very drinkable.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.7/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tulip glass.

A: Pours a deep, reddish amber with a finger of light khaki head. Some minimal streaks of lacing, but thick foam sits around the ring of the glass for awhile.

S: Sweet amber malt with some good complexity, caramel and even a little spiced cherry, which I think is contributing a little acidity.

T: Amber/pale malt, nutty (almond), molasses, with a lengthy, malty, and slightly spicy finish. Off dry.

M: Medium-light carbonation and medium-full body with a thickness/creaminess.

O: Very malty, enough so that it's fatiguing to drink anywhere near a pint. Maybe it's the style, but I don't really see myself drinking much of this again.

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Photo of BilbosNuts
3.55/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to my buddy McD0uche for bringing this up from SoCal for me.

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a clear garnet color with limited carbonation, making it look very still. It has a white rocky head that reduces to a film that sits on top.

S: It has some lager-like characteristics in the taste. The aroma consists of clean toasted malts, butterscotch, grassy scents, and an earthy caramel aroma.

T: Similar to the aroma in the clean toasted malts and earthy caramel aspects. It has the same lager characteristics described in the aroma.

M: It is pretty smooth to drink and leaves a dry finish. It ends slightly bitter and crisp. It is medium bodied and lightly carbonated.

O: This is a pretty straightforward ale that is quite refreshing and not difficult to enjoy. I've been wanting to try some stuff from Alpine for a while and this will encourage me to continue my pursuit.

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Photo of t420o
3.77/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Alpine Irish red

A- pour produces a 1 finger tan head that fizzles away pretty quick leaving little lacing. Beer is amber with some brown. Some sediment floating around.  3.5 

S- very nutty, hot chocolate mix,  a floral scent, a light banana/clove type scent. 4

T- nutty, toffee, brown sugar, bready, light chocolate, a floral taste that follows the smell. The rye is there as well in the background. Actually a good Irish red. I still prefer a tangy American red ale though. Very good nontheless. 4   

M- beer is a little too thin for my liking. No real creamyness or anything. 3  

O- I could put down a bunch of these. Would be good at a bar and I'd like to try it on tap or even cask.  Not a hint of alcohol. 3.5


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Photo of notchucknorris
3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber, slightly reddish color with a thin light brown head that recedes to a light cap.

S: Some faint citrus hops along with some caramel malts and toffee. A slight nuttiness as well.

T: Taste is almost more along the lines of a nut brown than a red. Big and malty. A hint of orange zest upfront followed quickly by big, nutty malts. Lots of breadiness as well. A decent red, but not as bold as I was hoping for.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into SN tulip pint glass.
A: Pours a dark woody brown with a finger of tan head that slowly faded into a thick film that left thick rings of lacing down the glass. A few flakes of white yeast came out with the last pour.
S: Huge notes of orange-cream ice-cream similar to a Flintstones Pushup Pop (you remember those). I get notes of orange zest, caramel, wood, toffee, nuts and tangerines.
T: Follows the nose almost exactly although the creamy flavor is toned down a bit. I also get a hint of rye. The finish is very nutty and the aftertaste is spicy with hardly any bitterness to it.
M: Medium-thick body with a slick mouthfeel and soft even carbonation.
O: Wonderful malty flavors. Really refreshing and enjoyable, and thankfully not super sweet.

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Photo of regspeir
3.33/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle (courtesy of Hamilton23) poured an dark amber with a small off-white head which dissipated into a coating. There was little lacing. The nose was dark fruit, caramel and roasted malt.
The taste is fairly sweet - brown sugar and caramel, tempered by rye and with a bready taste. The mouthfeel is thin with medium carbonation. While this is a fine stab at the style, with so many great beers from this brewer, this one missed for me. Not a bad brew at all, this just isn't a noteworthy offering.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.31/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brought this home from a weekend trip to Alpine. Poured from a bomber into a Firestone Walker pint glass...

A - Pours a reddish copper with a one finger tan head. The coloring is spot on what I would expect from an Irish Red. Head retention is decent at best, and there is only a little slippery lacing to be had, but the coloring of this one is really exceptional.

S - Caramel, rye, and some mild fruity notes...

T -Caramel, bread, cocoa, and maybe a little toffee. Lots of sweet malts. Ends on a slight bitter note. Finish is dry...

M - Pretty thin. Light bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Refreshing and smooth, but still a little for my likings...

O - Glad I got a chance to try this one, but not my favorite from their lineup. While it's not a bad beer, it's not necessarily a good one either. Probably won't be revisiting this in the near future...


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Photo of MrVonzipper
3.41/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fairly mirky red with a dark amber tone. Nice 1-2 cm tan head with decent retention and no lacing.

Smell is kinda like a bowl of mixed sweet and sour dark fruit consisting of cherry, plum, raspberry and blackberry.

The flavor overall is pretty good. It is lacking character though. Tough to determine distinct flavor characteristics. It's interesting and different for a red in my opinion. Definitely doesn't really have the roasted chocolatey finish that the bottle states. Caramel malt and Slight roasted malt on the back end.

Mouthfeel Is medium bodied overall. Starts light and finished a tad heavier. Medium carbonation.

Overall the beer is pretty good. I really think the 10 IBUs is really what is keeping this beer from being a pretty great beer. I think it's seriously lacking character and maybe dry hopping would just set this beer above and beyond.

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Photo of FosterJM
3.48/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

563rd Review on BA
Bottle to Pint

Bottle brought home from Alpine Pub over Memorial Day.

App- When this sat in the glass it looked like wood varnish with a finger and a half of fast receding khaki pancake batter colored head. Left a large amount of sticky lace.

Smell- From a malt aspect its quite dominant with a sweetness that is tamed by a touch of rye. The caramel is faint is well but I hate to say this its kind of corn like in smell.

Taste- Its pretty straight forward malty with a touch of brown sugar and no real chocolate flavors are there more of a walnut nutty/roast taste.

Mouth- The feel is quite thin and high carbed. The residual flavors are a bit adjunt to me. Very let down by feel.

Drink- Im glad I got to bring a bottle home. Normally i really like what Alpine does but this was thin and off flavored for me. I probably wont come back to this one.

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Photo of armock
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Pery's Liquor in Livermore CA

A - Poured a mahogany color with an off white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is mostly of sweet caramel malt

T - Like the smell strong sweet caramel malt

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

O - This is a good beer overall its easy to drink with a good taste not sure its worth the price in bomber form but if you see it on tap its worth getting to try

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Photo of Trilogy31
3.35/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a reddish brown, without much head to speak of. I poured very aggressively and this beer seems lightly carbonated as no head formed. (the mouthfeel also has a pleasant light carbonation. Nose has simple caramel and lightly roasted malts with maybe a little coffee/toffee as well. Taste is a tasty mouthful of different malts. Really from light breads through rich caramel and finishing with a touch of dark roasted malt. Good beer for the style though you could give me a newcastle and i would be sadly just as happy.

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Photo of stakem
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to BdubleEdubleRUN for the generous extra in our Alpine beer trade. Poured from a bomber into a snifter, this brew appears a clear amber red with a creamy yellowish tan head. It fades slowly holding close to the edge of the glass leaving spotty lace. A swirl revives the cap back to a finger of tan coloration.

The aroma of this brew is hoppy with a fruity scent. Plenty of noticeable alcohol fuels the fruity esters. There is a noticeable amount of sweet smelling toasty caramel malt that balances out the fruited aspect of the hops and alcohol. There is almost a vanilla-like sweetness that comes out as the brew warms. Overall very fruity sweet smelling.

The taste is toasty caramel malt that is thick and toasty with a sweet flavor that is somewhat reminiscent of vanilla. A little bit of a grassy aftertaste from the hops and a mild alcohol warmth. The grassy hop aftertaste is balanced with the residual flavor of toasted malt.

This is an easy drinking brew. It is medium bodied with a modest amount of carbonation. Very smooth throughout with plenty of malt and balancing hop flavors. A very solid representation of the style, I would drink this again.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass

A- Three finger frothy head that dissipates slowly, lacing sticks to the side, medium carbonation, dark brown bronze color.
S- Sweet malts up front, caramel, hints of fruit very appealing aroma.
T- Nice spiciness, sweet taste, brown sugar, malt backbone, very surprising beer, raisin, and caramel.
M- Medium mouth feel, moderate carbonation.
O- Very surprising beer, did not know what to expect, very sweet, wonderful malt characteristic, very easy drinkability, a perfect beer to have for dessert.

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Photo of beagle75
3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint glass.

A: Clear, light reddish-amber color with over one finger of diminishing off-white foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Toasted bread and grain, not as much caramel as the appearance might suggest, with some faint tangerine citrus occasionally emerging.

T: Begins barely off-dry, malty with bread and caramel. A fruity quality that reminds of maraschino cherries is also present early, likely formed by a combination of yeast esters, crystal malt, and careful hopping. Acidity is well-balanced here, perhaps even remarkably so. Vanilla ice cream is detected in the middle, where some of the other previously-noted flavors fade considerably. The finish is dry, slightly bitter, and even leathery at times.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, fluid on the palate--even occasionally creamy--with moderate carbonation.

D: Alpine brews a few different amber ales--this one, as well as Alpine ale--that are remarkably similar. This Irish red ale is malt-forward, never extreme, and just what one might expect from one of Alpine's less abundantly-hopped beers. It pairs well with a variety of food flavors, reminding at times of New Belgium's ubiquitous Fat Tire--but with less overbearing biscuit flavor than that other beer.

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Photo of farrago
3.27/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light head, crests at maybe half a finger, between cream white and the lightest tan, a lot of larger bubbles with not so much foam, lacing about as non-existent as can be and have still momentarily been there. Lighter amber red color with orange rims and glass bottom, damn close to fully transparent, widespread bubbles quickly kick upwards. The nose is fairly airy and light with a soft malty, caramel, molasses, honey, cocoa and pie flake core, not that sweet but sweet enough red cherry, grape, apricot, apple, pear fruit scents to outweigh the grass, hay component, citrus stays in the background, the stuff is there to be more appealing, however, simply isn't clearly keen on taking many steps to please. Medium-bodied and on the soft side, an amiable jiggle and "more to love" going on, still the carbonation tries to add more precision and leanness, if ultimately failing. Good deal of cocoa, milk chocolate powder with caramel mixed in, powdery texture yet sweet. The lemon, orange citrus is tart and lacks the zest to persist to the end. Bready, more towards rye or maybe pumpernickel than whiter dough. Faint metallic earthy ring. Tenuous apricot, peach, nectarine, apple fruit. Not flawed, in the end commits the cardinal sin of just being boring.

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Photo of billab914
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Founders pint glass. it poured a deep mahogany red color with a thin white head to it. It also had some decent head retention to it as I drank it. Really nice looking color to it overall.

The aroma has a big caramel presence to it with some sweet almost butterscotch candy like flavors to it.

The taste is sweet and malty, just as the nose suggested. Caramel really comes through and a hint of that butterscotch flavor that was in the aroma as well. Just a bit of the dark, chocolaty and roasty flavors come through in the finish and helps it from becoming too sweet.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a little below average carbonation. Drinkability is good, it was a really cool, unique and good beer overall. I really liked all the different malt flavors in it and they all really came together nicely.

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Photo of nickd717
3.71/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from City Beer in SF for $6.99, which is a little high for an Irish Red, but oh well. I was surprised to see Alpine there.

Pours a clear firetruck red color with a creamy two-finger light beige head and good lacing.

Aroma is typical for the style: bready caramel malt, slight roast, earth, and even a little rye.

Flavor is caramel and toffee, rye, wood/earth, and mild fruity notes.

Medium body with a nice smooth mouthfeel.

Not terribly exciting, but drinkable and good for the style.

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Photo of JTahoe
4.2/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Nearly garnet red with orange tones, one finger off-white head reduces fairly quickly but leaves enough lace hanging around to be respectable. Looking really nice for the style.

S - Malty sweet with hints of tropical fruit, perhaps a whiff of piña colada... interesting

T - Caramel malts dominate. Some fruitiness coming through... a hint of pineapple... but this fades about half way in. Some toasted nuts, and cocoa begin to come subtly into play along with just the lightest hint of citric bitterness. Very clean all the way through.

M - Medium body leaning just slightly towards medium-full. a nice velvety smoothness, just a touch of creamy feel. Carbonation is perfect.

D - A really nice beer all around, perhaps my favorite Irish Red. Very very well made.

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Photo of popery
3.37/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle, home. This beer is okay, but it's a disappointment coming from Alpine. This beer is bright orange rust in color with a small dissipating head, white. The aroma is a nice mix of malt flavors. It's hard to pick out too many individual malt notes because the caramel dominates, but chocolate and a touch of fruit peak out. Hops are almost nonexistent. The flavor is the real downer. It starts out almost rich and sweet with malt flavors but that quickly fades into an odd mess of sickly sweet and off-kilter light roast bitterness. The mouthfeel is also odd and not so great. I wish that this beer had a bit more hops or a bit more direction with the malt. It's not bad or anything, but this isn't a direction that I particularly like. All that said, I still firmly believe that Alpine is awesome.

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Photo of SanDiegoBeerLove
3.85/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear Dark Reddish/Amber color with about a finger of off white head.

S - Malty sweet smell, Cinnamon, candied sugar, and citrus.

T - Tastes of malts, brown sugar, spices.

M - Nice carbonation and slightly syrupy.

D - This is not a very complex beer but Irish Reds aren't usually but it is very drinkable.

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McIlhenney's Irish Red from Alpine Beer Company
3.73 out of 5 based on 270 ratings.
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